About the food of Uganda

Batwa dancers at Buhoma in Uganda. Photo by Graham Racher.

Batwa dancers at Buhoma in Uganda.
Photo by Graham Racher.

“The person who has not traveled widely thinks his or her mother is the best cook.”
Ugandan Proverb

Oh boy, what truth this proverb holds. But I’d say the opposite, too: the further I travel from mom’s cooking, the better I remember mom’s food – and the more I crave it. After all, distance makes the heart grow fonder.

And I’m sure this is the way with Ugandans as well.

The Kasubi Tombs in Kampala, Uganda. Photo by notphilatall.

The Kasubi Tombs in Kampala, Uganda. Photo by notphilatall.

If you’d like to float about in one of the world’s largest lakes, you just might take a trip to Uganda, in central/eastern Africa. At the southernmost edge of this beautiful country, you’ll find Lake Victoria. The lake is so large, the last time it dried up completely was 17,300 years ago.

Fish reigns supreme in this part of Uganda.

Murchison Falls seen from river Nile. Photo by Albert Backer.

Murchison Falls seen from river Nile. Photo by Albert Backer.

Pass through the center of Uganda, and you’re in the middle of marshland. Further to the north, Uganda is drier.

A quick scan of typical recipes from Uganda told me one simple fact: the cuisine is a celebration of peanuts. Peanut oil is used in kebab marinades [Recipe]. Peanut sauce drapes over rice, potatoes, and especially matoke, a.k.a. cooked green bananas. For a walk on the sweeter side peanuts are found in kashata, or coconut peanut brittle (although just about any nut can be used in this popular street food) [Recipe].

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As for the carbs, you’ll find a lot of Indian food. You’ll be able to try all manner of samsa, naan (recipe 1 and recipe 2), and chapati [recipe] with curry. Then there’s more traditional African fare, like porridge and bread made with millet.

Wagagai, the highest peak of Mount Elgon, Uganda. Photo by Kristina Just.

Wagagai, the highest peak of Mount Elgon, Uganda. Photo by Kristina Just.

So what about you?

Does travel affect how you see your mama’s cooking? 

Maps and flag of Uganda courtesy of the CIA World Factbook.

Maps and flag of Uganda courtesy of the CIA World Factbook.

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Comments

  1. I have strong emotional difficult memories of Uganda. I just finished reading “Kite Runner”, about wartorn Afghanistan… not great literature but a passionate book well worth reading. When I went to Uganda, it was like that. I was held for a week by State Research Bureau, the innocuous name for the secret police of Idi Amin. Later, I did relief work during a devastating famine in an area adjacent to South Sudan. It was a combat zone, so dangerous that most charities didn’t dare send any workers in. But since I was a volunteer and not an employee, they could send me in.

  2. … miss my own cooking too….since I have gone vegetarian – and prior to this was vegan for a year or so…
    But I am learning to adapt and find creative ways to cook within the parameters I have set for myself ..
    WHY? …for spiritual and health reasons…:
    “the vindication of truth not by infliction of suffering on the opponent but on one’s self” Mahatma Gandhi

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